Rugby union

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Rugby union is a sport played throughout the world, but is especially popular in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Australia, South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland and France.


For the rules of rugby, see rugby (sport)



Every 4 years, the IRB holds a World Cup, in which all the best countries throughout the world participate in. The winners of this competition is crowned world champions for the next four years. Here is a list of previous World Cup winners:

  • 1987: New Zealand
  • 1991: Australia
  • 1995: South Africa
  • 1999: Australia (2)
  • 2003: England
  • 2007: South Africa (2)
  • 2011: New Zealand (2)

New Zealand (also commonly known as the All Blacks due to their black playing kit) has won the World Cup twice, and have by far the best overall test record, winning 318 of their 429 test matches to date (74%) and are widely regarded by many as the best team in the world. South Africa is second with a winning percentage of 63%. The All Blacks has also spent the most time at the top of the IRB world rankings, since it was introduced in 2003.[1]

In addition to the World Cup, international competitions are played each year, one for the major northern hemisphere teams (called the Six Nations), and one for the southern hemisphere teams (called the Tri-Nations). In 2012 the Tri-Nations will be changed to the Four Nations with the inclusion of Argentina. The current champions of the Six Nations are France, and the Tri Nations champions are South Africa.


Two international provincial competitions are held annually, the Super 14 in the Southern Hemisphere and the Heiniken Cup in Europe. The Super 14 is contested between teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and the European Competition between teams from Ireland, Great Britain, Italy and France.